Walter E. Williams

There's no end to what the energy czar could do, particularly if he enlists the aid of California's Department of Health Services. Getting six to eight hours sleep each night is healthy; good health lowers health costs. So why not make it possible for the energy czar to turn the lights off at a certain hour? California's Department of Education knows children should do their homework after school rather than sit playing video games or watching television. The energy czar could improve education outcomes simply by turning off the television, or at least turning off all non-educational programs. Of course, there could be a generous provision whereby if an adult is present, he could use a password to operate the television.

You say, "Williams, you must be mad. All that would never happen." That's the same charge one might have made back in the '60s, when the anti-tobacco movement started, if someone predicted that the day would come when some cities, such as Calabasas, Calif., would outlaw smoking on public streets. Back in the '60s, had someone predicted that there'd be bans on restaurants serving foie gras; citations for driving without a seatbelt, that the government said would be unnecessary if cars had airbags; and school bans on kids having peanut butter sandwiches in their lunchbox, I'm sure people would have said that would never happen.

California's Energy Commission, along with its legislature, has the power to mandate that all existing -- as well as new -- heating and cooling devices have programmable communicating thermostats by 2009. After all, it's never too early to start saving energy or prepare for an "emergency event." The reason they won't is because they would encounter too much political resistance. Their agenda is far more achievable using techniques dear to all tyrants: There's less resistance if liberty is taken away a little bit at a time.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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